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Black Britain and Beyond: inaugural event explores meaning of Black Britishness during Black History Month

Speakers and performers including singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé, Dawn Butler MP, BBC Songs of Praise Presenter Diane Louise-Jordan, and British Actor Kwame Kwei-Armah OBE will come together on 24 October to explore ‘Being and Belonging’

Black Britain and Beyond, organised with lead partner UCL Culture, is the first of its kind – an online symposium on 24 October bringing together cultural leaders, academics, activists, and innovators including Emeli Sandé, Dawn Butler MP, Diane Louise-Jordan and Kwame Kwei-Armah OBE, to explore the meaning of Black Britishness.

With the spark of a global consciousness and layers of society newly awaking to systemic and institutional racism, this event invites Black Britons, and their allies, from all walks of life to join the underexplored and complex history of what it means to be Black and British. The symposium will celebrate the unique and influential cultures of Black British communities and explore what the future holds for Black British voices and identities. 

Dawn Butler, Labour MP, speaker at Black Britain and Beyond, said: “The Black Britain and Beyond symposium is a force for good, with a noble desire to galvanise Black Britons, in an ever-changing globalised world. One of its missions which really stood out for me is to encourage and support Black communities to take stock of their achievements. This is very powerful; it is time we promote amazing achievements and to pass this successful narrative onto younger generations. This is needed more than ever before. We must stand firm in our power. I am excited to support this journey.”

Black Britain and Beyond aims to develop a platform to bring together Black Britons of all ages and experiences to engage in and critically assess the significance of their unique cultures, heritages and identities. The mission is to help Britain’s Black community take stock of its achievements and challenges, and devise plans to facilitate its future development and progress.

‘Being and Belonging’, is the golden thread which weaves together the world-renowned plenary speakers, performances, and the moderated panel sessions. The first symposium will take place on Saturday 24th October 2020 as an online event and will include performances by leading artists, live keynote speech, live panel discussions, and networking. Speakers, artists and performers include:

  • Emeli Sandé MBE, Singer-Songwriter
  • Dawn Butler, Labour MP
  • Diane-Louise Jordan, Television and Radio Presenter (BBC Songs of Praise)
  • Kwame Kwei-Armah OBE, British Actor
  • Robyn Travis, British Author
  • Brenda Emmanus, Broadcaster and Journalist 
  • Malone Mukwende, Medical Student, St George’s University
  • Colleen Amos CBE, Co-Founder, The Amos Bursary
  • Dorothy Chirwa, President, Newcastle University Students’ Union
  • Keith Magee, Co-Chair and Director, Black Britain and Beyond and Senior Fellow, UCL Culture
  • Ayo Olubode, Vice President, University of Warwick
  • Annatoria (Blessing Chitapa), Singer-Songwriter
  • Eryca Freemantle, Global Makeup Artist and Public Speaker
  • Sheryl Nwosu, Barrister, 25 Bedford Row Chambers
  • Bryan Bonaparte, Co-Chair, Black Britain and Beyond and Senior Lecturer, University of Westminster
  • Neo Tapela, MD, Senior Research Fellow, Big Data Institute
  • Shaka Hislop, Retired Trinidadian English Footballer and ESPN Television Presenter

Reverend Professor Keith Magee, Co-Chair and Director of Black Britain and Beyond, said: “We wanted Black Britain and Beyond to be a space where we can have a Black conversation. This is an opportunity for independent Black voices to talk about the hopes of Black Britons’ future. We want Black British communities in the UK from London and Liverpool, from Wales and the West Midlands with heritage from Ghana to Guyana and from Nigeria to Jamaica and everywhere in between to come together to develop an ideas collective to support all of the identities that emerge from this. Music fans, academics, grandmothers, teachers, business owners, teenagers, everyone is invited. No one is excluded.

“Black Britain and Beyond will be pivotal in documenting the necessary questions and strategies towards helping Black communities across Britain through widening the support of Black owned businesses and initiatives and enabling people to strengthen their Black personal and professional networks.”

Simon Cane, Executive Director, UCL Culture, said: “We believe that change starts with a conversation and through the amplification of the voices less heard. This is a critical conversation about the future that we want to create, a future where Black lives are valued as much as any other, a future that British Black communities’ are able to invest in, influence and shape as equal stakeholders.”

For information about speakers, performers, registration please visit the events website at www.blackbritainbeyond.org.uk.

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